The U.S. State Department on Sunday praised Israel’s declared willingness to restart Middle East peace talks with the Palestinians.

An Israeli official said Sunday that the government had accepted a plan by the quartet of Middle East mediators -- the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia -- for renewing stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

“We welcome the Israeli government’s announcement expressing readiness to resume negotiations with the Palestinians, as called for by the quartet. The Palestinians expressed support for the quartet approach on September 29,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

She said the United States renewed its calls “on both parties to resume negotiations without preconditions, on the timetable proposed by the quartet, as the best means to advance their interests, resolve their differences and fulfill (President Barack Obama’s) two-state vision.” The quartet issued its proposal on September 23, setting the end of 2012 as a deadline.

It calls for relaunching negotiations within a month, and on both sides to make “significant progress” on the two issues of borders and security first, before addressing other highly sensitive differences such as Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

While it accepts the Palestinian demand for a clear timetable, the quartet backs Israel’s rejection of preconditions for talks.

The Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee on Thursday insisted that it would resume talks only if Israel stopped settlement activity and accepted the 1967 lines as the basis for talks.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the Six-Day War of 1967.

More In: International | News